Durban music lovers are in for a treat this May when Grammy award winning blues legend Cyril Neville jets into the city for his first ever concert in South Africa.
The celebrated 68-year old American percussionist and vocalist, who has also been called a philosopher, poet, and one of the last great southern soul singers, is excited to make the almost 23 hour flight from New Orleans to Durban.
“This is my first trip to South Africa and I hope it's not my last. I want to come to Africa as many times as I possibly can. I've wanted to visit "Home" for a long time so I'm extremely excited about coming, my whole band is excited. This is a dream come true for us”, Neville said.
Neville, who was born and raised in New Orleans, first came to prominence when he joined The Meters, a funk band that played an influential role as backing musicians.
Neville went on to have a successful solo career and has also written songs with Bono, Daniel Lanois and Taj Mahal.
“I always knew I wanted to be a musician very early in my life. My brother Art's band rehearsed at our house so I got to interact with some of the best musicians in New Orleans who were all masters of their craft, before I was in my teens. And for me, because I was introduced to music at such a young age, music is definitely in my blood”, he said.
Describing his music, Neville said it is a lot like food. “My music is a lot like one of our favorite local dishes here in New orleans, Gumbo (a stew that originated in southern Louisiana), a conglomeration of several different ingredients culminating in one delicious dish. Now, to come out with a true Gumbo, you have to get your roux sauce right, or you will wind up with just soup. Now, your roux is your foundation, the basis for your Gumbo and will determine the taste and I might say, the quality of your Gumbo. With the roux correct, all your other ingredients, like shrimps, crabs, sausage and okra will have their base to be a great Gumbo.
With that said African rhythms are the roux of my musical Gumbo and with that in tact, the guitars, horns, keyboards and drums help me consistently serve up hot, danceable, funky grooves every time”.
“Growing up in New Orleans in a musical family exposed me to a lot of different styles of music. My brother was on Atlantic Records at the same time as Larry Williams, and
Little Richard, at the beginning of Rock N Roll, so he was the first rock star I ever knew. Everything I heard influenced me in some way. My brother Aaron, Irma Thomas, Johnny Adams, Ernie K-Doe, Allen Toussaint are some of my local influences”, he said. Neville said that while going through his brothers collection of jazz records he found gems like Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba.
“People who aren't yet familiar with my music can expect to be able to shake what their mommas gave them. They can let their hair down, or they can take it off. Bring two pairs of dancing shoes, because you might wear the first pair out dancing”, said Neville.
He also said he was looking forward to interacting with South African musicians, eating local cuisine and having a good time.
The star is also working with his son on a new album which he plans on naming Back To My Roots.
Catch Cyril Neville in concert at the Playhouse on May 4. Tickets can be purchased through Computicket.